Ethics and governance of AI for health: Working group on ethics presents guidance document at 13th meeting of ITU/WHO Focus Group AI for Health

November 16, 2021

The working group on “Ethical considerations on AI for health” (WG-Ethics) presented the WHO guidance document “Ethics & Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health” at the 13th meeting of the ITU/WHO Focus Group on AI for health (FG-AI4H) . 127 participants from around the globe joined the meeting that took place virtually on September 28 to 30, 2021. FG-AI4H is chaired by Thomas Wiegand, Professor at TU Berlin and Executive Director at Fraunhofer HHI.

FG-AI4H explores global evaluation standards for AI for health. WG-Ethics is one of six working groups within FG-AI4H and chaired by Dr. Andreas Reis (WHO). Working groups cover broad areas (e.g. ethics, regulation, clinical evaluation, data and algorithm assessment). These working groups interact with topic groups in FG-AI4H that work on specific health use cases demonstrating how they can benefit from AI.

The guidance document “Ethics & Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health” is the outcome of eighteen months of deliberation among leading experts in ethics, digital technology, law, human rights and experts from Ministries of Health. The team effort is going forward under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report presented identifies ethical challenges and risks that come with the use of AI in health. It outlines six consensus principles that are relevant to ensure AI works to the public benefit of all countries. Furthermore, it illustrates recommendations to guarantee that the governance of AI for health maximizes the promise of the technology. The document puts a focus on holding all stakeholders accountable for healthcare workers who will rely on new AI technologies as well as the communities and individuals whose health will be affected by their use.

The report is just the beginning. To implement the suggested guidelines, WG-Ethics will organize workshops with global health agencies, industry, civil society, and Ministries of Health on the next steps. The team will also provide guidance on emerging applications, examine the use of AI within specific disease areas, and ensure coherence between ethical principles and other emerging areas of guidance. In this context, WG-Ethics will continue to collaborate closely with other FG-AI4H working and topic groups.

In addition to WG-Ethics, all other working and topic groups presented status updates on their activities during the 13th FG-AI4H meeting. Highlights were the presentations of the Open Code Initiative  and AI Audits .

The next FG-AI4H meeting will take place online from February 15-17, 2022. For more information on upcoming events and activities, please visit the FG-AI4H website .

The WHO guidance document “Ethics & Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health” published on June 28, 2021 and is publicly available here .